So much of our time these days is spent sitting at the computer. This has been much more obvious over the past few months taking care of everything from photos, videos, music, documents, banking, bill pay, social media and investment accounts. These are our digital assets, and we would be totally lost if we could not access them.
In late July, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law Act 72 of 2020. The official name of the Act, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Access Act, allows Pennsylvanians to transfer their digital assets and property in the same manner as tangible property. Doing so, however, may present challenges.
Why It Is Important
Act 72 of 2020 is to take effect in January 2021 and gives the power to the people to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets. However, the verbiage is a bit confusing. Whether you became disabled or passed away, granting authority to access your digital information was totally subject to the service provider agreement. And if you didn’t read the fine print and put that agreement in place by naming a successor user, your digital assets were left out in limbo.
Basically, if you failed to plan for the management of your digital assets in the past, you can now have the same appointed fiduciary that manages the tangible assets manage the digital assets as well. This will extend the authority to the executor, guardian, power of attorney or trustee for the benefit of the person or their estate.
With estate planning being such a large part of our MASTERPLAN® process, it is important that you can talk with your advisor and your attorney about how each online agreement reads. Ultimately, you want to utilize the agreement, or your own estate planning documents, to allow access or non-access to your online accounts.
Everyone should create a current list of all online accounts, usernames and passwords. This will help identify the digital assets as easily as a list of the tangible assets. Keep this list current as you would your inventory of real assets and review them with your financial advisor and your attorney.